Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Grill Masters!

Some people love to lay in the sun on a beach. Others can’t imagine anything better than speeding down a highway on a motorcycle. My mom's and my favourite summer activity is to grill on a deck surrounded by friends and family. 

We may not be Bobby Flay’s protégés just yet, but I think we’ve learned a few great tips and tricks for barbecuing. 

Here’s a Top Ten List for Grilling, dedicated to my mom on her birthday. Thanks for teaching me all you know about the grill, Mom!

  1. Warm Up – Before you start to exercise, you’re told you need to warm up because your body won’t work the same way if you don’t stretch first. While you don’t need to stretch your steaks, you should warm your meat up to room temperature before you grill. A cold steak won’t cook as evenly as a room temperature steak because it’s hard to get the middle of a cold steak warm without over cooking the outside of it. So, take your steaks from the fridge about 20 minutes prior to grilling and you’ll be on your way to grilling a great a steak.

  1. Feel the Heat – Think of your barbecue as you would your oven and preheat the grill before you start cooking. Preheating your barbecue helps you to judge cooking times, helps you to get a terrific crust on a piece of meat, and it also gives you a little time to clean your grill if you’ve been a bit lazy thinking that a hot barbecue will burn away any old food.

  1. Leave it Be – Fight the urge to poke or prod at the meat you’re grilling because too much moving around means you won’t get a caramel crust, a nice sear, or grill marks on the outside of your dinner. And, if you try and flip your meal too early, it could stick to the grill. You should try to only turn your meat once or twice and never squish your meat against the grill or you’ll lose all the juicy flavour and have a dried out meal.

  1. Fat is Not Your Friend – While fat makes food taste delicious, it’s a terrible addition to grilling. Fat on meat, or excess marinade when grilling, can make flames flare up and can make the outside of food burn while the inside is still raw. It’s best to drain excess marinade and trim extra fat off from your meat or to precook large, bone in pieces of meat in the oven prior to finishing them on the grill.

  1. Fish is Your Friend – Fish has very little fat in it and that makes it perfect for grilling. There are baskets you can buy to grill fish where you sandwich a fillet inside wire to ensure your dinner won’t flake apart when you’re grilling. But I prefer to grill a skin on fillet of fish without a basket. All you do is place the fish directly on the grill, skin side down, and close the lid of your barbecue. In 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillet, your fish will have cooked through without you having had to flip it.

  1. Give Your Side Dish A Starring Role – When I think about grilling, I usually think of steaks or burgers. I don’t tend to think of veggies. But, veggies take on great flavour after they’re grilled. Slice carrots or beets, mix them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, and package them up in aluminum foil to throw on the grill to steam. Or toss some fresh asparagus with salt, pepper, and olive oil, throw them directly on the upper grill, and let the music begin. Just make sure you lay your asparagus perpendicular to the grill so they don’t fall through!

  1. Flavour, Flavour, Flavour – What’s the point of trying to cook a great meal if you don’t flavour your food? Marinate meat for up to 24 hours to tenderize and provide flavour, just try not to use too many sweet ingredients so your marinade doesn’t burn when it hits the grill. Or, after you’ve grilled, try one of these two ideas; pour a South American Chimichurri Sauce overtop of your meal or try grilling half a piece of citrus on the fleshy side for two or three minutes and squeeze it over everything. The citrus will take on a grilled flavour and the heat from the grill will make it really juicy.

  1. Touch Test – When you think your meat is grilled to the doneness you want, you’ve got to touch it to see if you’re right. You can use a meat thermometer or, when you get more confident, you can use the touch test for steaks. A rare steak feels springy, like how poking the palm of your hand feels when you touch your thumb to your first finger. A well done steak feels firm, like how the palm of your hand feels when you touch your thumb to your pinky finger.

  1. Let it Rest – Just as you would do when you’re cooking inside, you need to let your meat rest after it’s finished cooking on the grill. When you cut into a piece of meat that hasn’t rested, all the juicy goodness will flow from it onto a plate. But you when you cut into a piece of rested meat, your dinner will remain juicy and delicious. A resting time of about five minutes for smaller cuts of meat, or 15 minutes for roasts, is enough to let the juices settle down after being on the hot grill. 

10. Get Creative – Don’t be shy when trying new things on the grill. Try a new marinade instead of your regular barbecue sauce, grilling pizza, smoking meat, or grilling peaches or pineapple for dessert. Experimenting is the way to get better at grilling and the more you experiment, the more confident you'll become and the more delicious your grilling will get.

Easy Jerk Chicken Drum Sticks – Serves 4

12 chicken drum sticks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ cup chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 pinch of salt and pepper1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. In a large baking dish, combine oil, lime juice, chili garlic sauce, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix well.

2. Add the chicken drum sticks to the dish and coat them with the sauce on all sides.

3. Bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through, about 25-35 minutes. As the chicken is fully cooked, the sauce is fine to save and use after the chicken is grilled, so save the sauce.

4. Preheat the barbecue to medium heat and grill the chicken drum sticks for about one minute on each side to get a great flavour and grill marks.

5. Serve with a little of the sauce from the baking dish and enjoy.

A great alternative to this dish, for those of you who aren't interested in spicy food, is using 1/4 cup of purchased or homemade pesto in place of the Easy Jerk Sauce. The recipe instructions are exactly the same, just replace the Easy Jerk Sauce with pesto, and a little additional olive oil if needed, and away you go.

I actually like to make half recipes of each so I can serve both variations on the same plate!  


  1. Shared at Foodie Friends Friday linky party http://www.foodiefriendsfridaydailydish.com/foodie-friends-friday-grill-it-linky-party/

  2. They look delicious! Thank you for sharing with Foodie Friends Friday!